Goldsmith denies election funding claims

Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith

Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith

First published in News by

A multi-millionaire parliamentary candidate for Richmond Park has hit back at claims he breached electoral rules by using part of his fortune to fund his political campaign.

Leader of Richmond Council, Serge Lourie said he was “shocked” by reports that Conservative Zac Goldsmith had “broken the law”.

The controversy arose after it emerged that Mr Goldsmith gave £7,000 to his party when he was not on the electoral roll - a breach of the rules that would usually lead to the forfeiture of the money.

A spokesman for the Electoral Commission confirmed that it was talking to the Conservatives about the matter.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Lourie said: “No matter what rules and regulations are in force, it is clear that Mr Goldsmith is willing to spend vast amounts to try and buy votes for the Conservatives here.”

Mr Goldsmith, 33, who is believed to have inherited £300m from his billionaire father Sir James Goldsmith, has rubbished the idea he has spent a “fortune” promoting his campaign in Richmond.

An estimated £90,000 has been spent on his campaign in the past year.

He said there was no suggestion the law had been broken and described Coun Lourie’s actions as “opportunistic, and utterly disingenuous”.

Mr Goldsmith also lashed out at Liberal Democrats for spending “more money on their literature than we have, much of it with taxpayers’ money”.

He added: “On the issue of electoral rules, everything has been declared on time and accurately.

“However, for a few weeks last year I was not on the electoral roll, as I had removed myself from Kensington and Chelsea and was in the process of signing up in Richmond.

“Whatever was donated in that time may have to be repaid, but there is no suggestion that it was anything other than an oversight.”

Most of the £7,000 “notional” donation was said to be used for offices and staff rather than publicity material.

Mr Goldsmith is vying to overturn a 3,700 Liberal Democrat majority and take the Richmond Park parliamentary seat from Susan Kramer MP.

Comments (8)

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2:40pm Tue 19 Aug 08

Harry_ says...

Looks like the wheels are coming loose on the Tory Bandwagon. What with this and Boris Johnson losing a third deputy mayor in less than four months, it doesn't bode well for the supposed Tory resurgence
Looks like the wheels are coming loose on the Tory Bandwagon. What with this and Boris Johnson losing a third deputy mayor in less than four months, it doesn't bode well for the supposed Tory resurgence Harry_
  • Score: 0

4:44pm Tue 19 Aug 08

jeffbuxton5 says...

I think the most worrying aspect of this whole story is that someone is trying to buy local residents' votes in this manner. Surely, it is time to put a cap on spending? We don’t all have inherited fortunes to spend on getting elected. One has to wonder about motives if people are prepared to spend this kind of money.
I think the most worrying aspect of this whole story is that someone is trying to buy local residents' votes in this manner. Surely, it is time to put a cap on spending? We don’t all have inherited fortunes to spend on getting elected. One has to wonder about motives if people are prepared to spend this kind of money. jeffbuxton5
  • Score: 0

5:02pm Tue 19 Aug 08

howareyourunningtoday says...

People aren't stupid, they know when they are being bought - spending this amount of money will backfire on him. I really think people are begginning to see through these supposed 'new tories'.
People aren't stupid, they know when they are being bought - spending this amount of money will backfire on him. I really think people are begginning to see through these supposed 'new tories'. howareyourunningtoday
  • Score: 0

6:03pm Tue 19 Aug 08

Tony from Surbiton says...

Is £90,000 really that much? I suppose that depends on whether it includes the cost of an office and staff. A couple of members of staff and a small office, plus enough leaflets for the whole borough. I should imagine that's about £90,000.
Is £90,000 really that much? I suppose that depends on whether it includes the cost of an office and staff. A couple of members of staff and a small office, plus enough leaflets for the whole borough. I should imagine that's about £90,000. Tony from Surbiton
  • Score: 0

7:28pm Tue 19 Aug 08

gertrude grendal says...

A plague on all their houses! Politicians! After a long life I have gone from idealist in my youth, to optimist, to disappointed, and now just plain cynical. All the parties are the same, all have their smouts in the troughs. The Nat Libs are as big hypocrites as the others, Serge Lourie justifies the councillors' rise in pay by stating if you want the best brains you must pay for them. Well, I've heard of "If you pay peanuts you get monkeys". We pay plenty and get rascals.
A plague on all their houses! Politicians! After a long life I have gone from idealist in my youth, to optimist, to disappointed, and now just plain cynical. All the parties are the same, all have their smouts in the troughs. The Nat Libs are as big hypocrites as the others, Serge Lourie justifies the councillors' rise in pay by stating if you want the best brains you must pay for them. Well, I've heard of "If you pay peanuts you get monkeys". We pay plenty and get rascals. gertrude grendal
  • Score: 0

10:29pm Tue 19 Aug 08

alex twickenham says...

In the interests of fair play lets have a fresh look at this little spat.
Serge Lourie, the LibDem leader of our council is "shocked" that Zac Goldsmith has apparently breached the rules on campaign donations to the tune of £7K - even worse we are told that he is believed to have inherited £300M from his billionaire father. Shock horror! Does any of this make Zac Goldsmith a better or worse candidate to be our next MP? Time will tell, however I think it quite wrong that good fortune should be used to besmirch an individual in the same way that a lack of good fortune or education has been routinely used to denigrate others.
Serge Lourie, as leader of our council should be above this sort of playground stuff - sadly he's not. Apart from anything else, why is he challenging a prospective MP - is that not Susan Kramer's role as the incumbent MP? After all, she's obviously rattled and not averse to the odd photo opportunity!
Lourie routinely attacks those who dare to challenge his right to govern us - he has recently described the nascent Richmond United Group rather patronisingly as a "largely single-issue organisation"... He, his colleagues and his council officers might like to wonder why so many people have chosen to unite to form a protest group - would that have happened if all was going so well as suggested by the latest MORI poll? If RUG is a "single issue organisation" as C'llr Lourie suggests, there seem to be an awful lot of very different "single" issues and an awful lot of very disaffected residents in our borough. Perhaps he should ponder that fact rather than use his privileged position to rubbish those who dare to challenge his administration.
In the interests of fair play lets have a fresh look at this little spat. Serge Lourie, the LibDem leader of our council is "shocked" that Zac Goldsmith has apparently breached the rules on campaign donations to the tune of £7K - even worse we are told that he is believed to have inherited £300M from his billionaire father. Shock horror! Does any of this make Zac Goldsmith a better or worse candidate to be our next MP? Time will tell, however I think it quite wrong that good fortune should be used to besmirch an individual in the same way that a lack of good fortune or education has been routinely used to denigrate others. Serge Lourie, as leader of our council should be above this sort of playground stuff - sadly he's not. Apart from anything else, why is he challenging a prospective MP - is that not Susan Kramer's role as the incumbent MP? After all, she's obviously rattled and not averse to the odd photo opportunity! Lourie routinely attacks those who dare to challenge his right to govern us - he has recently described the nascent Richmond United Group rather patronisingly as a "largely single-issue organisation"... He, his colleagues and his council officers might like to wonder why so many people have chosen to unite to form a protest group - would that have happened if all was going so well as suggested by the latest MORI poll? If RUG is a "single issue organisation" as C'llr Lourie suggests, there seem to be an awful lot of very different "single" issues and an awful lot of very disaffected residents in our borough. Perhaps he should ponder that fact rather than use his privileged position to rubbish those who dare to challenge his administration. alex twickenham
  • Score: 0

10:56am Wed 20 Aug 08

James Page says...

'Tony from Surbiton' wonders if £90 000 is a lot. The question is whether it's needed, useful, or fair.

James Page
(the Green Party candidate for Richmond Park! If I recall we spent about £500 on leaflets here in the last Gen. election.)
'Tony from Surbiton' wonders if £90 000 is a lot. The question is whether it's needed, useful, or fair. James Page (the Green Party candidate for Richmond Park! If I recall we spent about £500 on leaflets here in the last Gen. election.) James Page
  • Score: 0

12:31pm Wed 20 Aug 08

Harry_ says...

Regarding Alex's comments, we don't know how many people have chosen to unite to form a protest group. As far as I'm aware all that has ever been said is that so many local interest groups have joined together, but it has never been revealed who these groups are.
Regarding Alex's comments, we don't know how many people have chosen to unite to form a protest group. As far as I'm aware all that has ever been said is that so many local interest groups have joined together, but it has never been revealed who these groups are. Harry_
  • Score: 0
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